by Kara Wolf (w/a K. Kazul Wolf)
The flimsy cup of coffee steams in my hands, and I breathe in the heavy scent of peppermint mocha. Snow falls so thick that I can only see a few feet out of the window next to me. If it weren’t for the soft chatter of the warm café around me, it would be easy to think that I’m lost in some other world, completely alone.
Well, until I see Kendra storming down the sidewalk, bundled up in her wool jacket, scarves, gloves, and Eskimo hat. She kinda hates the cold.
She bursts in the door, shedding snow like a yeti with bad dandruff. A few people give her looks for not scraping her shoes on the mat, but no one dare mess with the angry abominable snowman.
I set down my mocha and stand up to hug her. “Hey Kendra, how are —?”
She drops her bag with a heavy thunk onto the table. “Are we really sitting by the window again, Lael?” Her green eyes narrow through the hole in her woolen armor.
“Oh.” I look out the window, then back to her. “I swear, I forgot.”
“Every time.” She shakes her head, plopping down in the spot next to me.
She claims that it’s colder by the windows, though I’ve never felt the difference. But, I suppose I get too distracted by the view to actually notice.
“So,” I search for something, eager to change the subject before she’s done melting — how can she stand to keep all those layers on? “How was your November? I can’t believe it’s been a month already. Did you finish your novel?”
She snorts, crossing her arms and looking away. “No.”
“But that’s okay! It’s not easy, and doing it all in one month is kinda ridiculous.”
“Well…” She gives a sigh. “Maybe you’re right.”
I nod, way too enthusiastically. “You’ll get there. Writing ‘The End’ at the finish of your manuscript is one of the best feelings ever, and I have no doubt you’ll get there.”
Another sigh, and her shoulders fall down as she unravels a little bit. I’ve known Kendra, well, for as long as I can remember. She’s the epitome of a moody artist, but she writes some brilliant stuff. I’m kind of excited to see where this story of hers goes — once she lets me read it.
“So, how much longer do you think you have to go until it’s done?” I take another sip of my mocha.
“Well,” she cocks her head, “that depends.” Then she turns around, looking at the crowded room of mismatched furniture and people momentarily escaping the chill outside. “Ma’am?” She calls to the girl walking around the counter with a sandwich for one of the costumers.
The woman tries and fails to smother her look of irritation, and walks over.
What is she doing? She barely likes to talk to even me, much less some random chick working behind the counter.
She reaches us, and Kendra orders, “Spill that on my friend, please.”
The girl blinks.
I laugh nervously. “Kendra, November really got to your hea—” The waitress reaches out the tray with what looks and smells like a huge, fat, greasy rueben and dumps it into my lap, I jump up, trying and failing to get the soggy bits out thousand island dressing and sauerkraut off my jeans — and failing.
“What the hell are you doing?” I scream at the two of them.
Kendra’s too busy laughing to notice me. She’s sits there, her head back, gasping between giggles for air.
“Is this some kind of joke?” I grab some napkins from the table, smearing it all the more. “Because it isn’t funny.”
Kendra cocks her head. “You know, you’re right.” She turns again to the rest of the cafe, as the waitress just stands there sort of limp, like a puppet with no master. “Barista!” she calls this time.
“Yes?” the man behind the counter calls, flicking his bangs from his eyes.
“You…” Kendra taps her chin. “You were just bitten by a zombie, and my friend has the most delicious brains that this whole planet has to offer.”
Okay, this has to stop. I reach out to grab Kendra’s hand, pull her out of this place, when there’s a moan from behind the counter.
The man slowly climbs up onto the counter, slobber trailing from his mouth, his eyes slowly fading to a sickly yellow with black veins running through them.
He leaps for me.
I grab my chair, lifting it just in time for him to run into it, skewering himself.
“S-stop it!” I scream. The blood streams from his wounds, pooling to the floor so that he starts to slip as he gropes the air for me. This can’t be happening. Maybe I’m the one suffering from post-November syndrome. Yeah, that has to be it.
“Still not funny?”
“No!” I scream, nearly slipping in the man’s blood myself as he makes another leap, shoving himself further up the chair’s legs with a squelch of flesh. “Not at all, make it stop!”
“Hmm…” she strokes her chin. “No, I think you’re just seeing it all wrong. Here. If all else fails, add more zombies.” She snaps her fingers. The entire café bursts into moaning. A man’s jaw slides off his face to splat onto the floor, a tween’s arm falling off at her shoulder which a sharp crack.
This…this isn’t real. I was just driving here, worrying about my idiotic family and all the fights sure to erupt on Christmas. I was thinking about how I need to change my cat’s litter box, how I have no food in the fridge.
And now…I’m in a café being attacked by zombies.
They take their time moaning and groaning towards me, but there’s so many. At least a dozen. I can’t make chair-kabobs out of them all, I need out.
Bracing my foot against the wall, I slide the barista forward, plowing through the lot of the zombies in front of me. Hands still brush against my cheeks, pull at my hair. It smells like rot, like meat gone rancid, clogging into my sinuses.
Finally there’s the door. I push them aside, the lot of them falling over, into each other. A few more are at my heels, one of them grabbing at my shirt.
Yanking myself out of their grip — or more like yanking their grip out of them with a soft pop — I jerk the door open, and fumbling outside.
“Bravo!” Kendra calls after me as I slam the door shut, pressing my body against it like that will do anything to help with the rattling, help to reinforce that weak glass.
But…the door isn’t glass anymore. And the sounds aren’t of bodies pummeling the door. It’s scrapings. Growlings. Barkings.
I take a step back. This isn’t the cafe. It’s some fairy tale-like cottage, so small I doubt a person could actually live in it. It looks warm and light and cozy inside compared to the darkness out here — wait, when did it get to be night? And tree trunks so thick I couldn’t wrap my arms around them, are scattered everywhere.
Where the hell am I?
The monster on the other side of the door howls.
“I’d run,” Kendra’s voice echoes through the ancient forest, “little red riding hood. Your wolf is about to catch you.”
And I’m suddenly aware of the heavy riding coat hanging on my shoulders, a sharp red amongst the darkness and bright of the fresh snow crunching underneath my boots.
A louder bang echoes against the door. Followed by another.
I turn and run and the banging continues, keeps following me like a drumbeat, like my heart pounding in my chest. There’s a moon overhead, a red, harvest moon, illuminating the snow.
“Your poor grandma never stood a chance against the big bad wolf,” Kendra’s voice haunts through the trees, melding with the pounding.
Not my nana. No, she’s not talking about my real grandma, she’s still in the hospital recovering from pneumonia.
“Such a poor, sick, old woman.”
She can’t be talking about mine. Tears prick at my eyes as I try to run as fast as I can through the thick snow, ice sliding into my boots, freezing my legs.
“You were too late to save her. And now….”
The pounding pauses.
“…The wolf is after you.”
A crash nearly shakes the ground. A strangled scream escapes my lips, terror picking across my skin, my legs shaking.
A howl tears through the night, to the full moon overhead. This noise is much closer than it should be.
The moon starts to dim. It’s harder to see the bumps and divots of roots and I’m reduced to stumbling blindly forward until one root snags me. I fall flat into the snow, scrambling to my feet — just to find that there’s no where to run in front of me. Just the open air of the edge of a cliff.
“Now, you see,” I fumble to sit, turning to see Kendra’s form in the darkness, “after that fight with the zombies, I was expecting a better chase.”
“Why are you doing this to me? What do you want? Did you slip something in my drink?” I need some logical answer to this, something that will make sense.
She laughs, stepping out of the gloom of the trees. Her layers of woolen clothes have been replaced by drippings of fur, a wolf’s head perched on her own. She walks on bare feet, her toes red in the snow. Movement darts behind her, many eyes glimmering in the darkness.
“Lael, I never even touched your drink.”
“Then what is it?” My voice shakes, hysterics bubbling in my chest. I want to get away from her, I don’t want her coming any closer to me. “What are you doing?”
“I’m simply finishing my story.” She stretches her fingers, leather gloves tipped with claws. “You see, you were never a writer. You were never my friend. You are my creation, Lael.”
“But…no.” That can’t be possible. I have a life! I’ve lived to be an adult, I have a family and friends and goals and dreams.
Then again, that’s what every character should have.
“And all I’ve ever gotten from you is trouble, you ungrateful little thing. Every time I want something, you’re always there to block it. Even when I simply want to sit away from the window, guess who’s there, telling me otherwise!”
Her lips twitch, and growling echoes behind her.
“P-please,” I beg. “I’ll be better.”
“Something tells me you’re lying. Again. You know, you were right about ending it. This is going to be satisfying.”
A grin spreads across her face. Wolves, black as the night, jump from the forest, snarling and yapping and coming straight for me.
I can’t run. There’s nowhere to go. I scream, raise my hands to block my face but they still tear into me. They rip me apart. The pain is numbing. I can’t even think until I can’t even feel.
Well, I guess that teaches me to sit by the window.
Note from V: For more twisted awesomeness from the mind of Kazul Wolf, please visit her website and/or follow her on Twitter. And don’t forget to come back this weekend for more departures from sanity…more ridiculousness, more awesomeness, and general writing-related shenanigans.
When Writers Go Wrong: Now, with twice the meatiness!